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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
large number of citations and thus may have a deterrent value (Powell and Willingham, n.d.). Such programs, when accompanied by sufficient media coverage, may also help instill or reinforce community norms against buying alcohol for minors or otherwise providing it to them. Retailers should be involved in shoulder tap operations. In many states, retailers might be held responsible for allowing minors to solicit adults to purchase alcohol within the immediate vicinity of their outlet. In such cases, the retailer has legal responsibility to curb such activities.
Recommendation 9-7: States and localities should implement enforcement programs to deter adults from purchasing alcohol for minors. States and communities should
routinely undertake shoulder tap or other prevention programs targeting adults who purchase alcohol for minors, using warnings, rather than citations, for the first offense;
enact and enforce laws to hold retailers responsible, as a condition of licensing, for allowing minors to loiter and solicit adults to purchase alcohol for them on outlet property; and
use nuisance and loitering ordinances as a means of discouraging youth from congregating outside of alcohol outlets in order to solicit adults to purchase alcohol.
Keg registration laws require the purchaser of a keg of beer to complete a form that links his or her name to a number on the keg. It is seen primarily as a tool for prosecuting adults who supply alcohol to young people at parties. Keg registration laws have become increasingly popular in local communities in the United States. The committee found only one published study on the effectiveness of these laws in reducing underage drinking problems. In that study of 97 U.S. communities, it was found that requiring keg registration was significantly and negatively correlated with traffic fatality rates (Cohen et al., 2001). Although the effectiveness of keg registration has not yet been convincingly established, the committee believes that the evidence is sufficient to endorse it as a potentially valuable tool for strengthening the enforcement of underage drinking laws at relatively little additional cost.
Recommendation 9-8: States and communities should establish and implement a system requiring registration of beer kegs that records information on the identity of purchasers.